Schools opened yesterday and the United Democratic Movement Women’s Organisation (UDEMWO) is outraged at government’s willingness to risk the lives of school pupils and teachers. It was quickly reported that Gauteng alone had 38 schools with coronavirus infections and the Western Cape had 55; which is the epicentre of this deadly enemy at the moment.
Three weeks ago, UDEMWO warned the Department of Education not to open schools until it is safe. We have pleaded with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to act as a parent, yet she chose not to.
UDEMWO is aware of a learner at Woodhill College (Pretoria) who tested positive for Covid-19, thus endangering all the came into contact with that learner. We are also in possession of a letter from West Bank High School (East London), where a learner whose parent tested positive and the school was forced to send back home all grade 7 learners until further notice.
UDEMWO calls on the Department of Basic Education and the National Coronavirus Command Council to urgently review this decision, even if it means that the current academic year must be revised.
South Africa cannot afford this kind of negligence, young lives are at stake and not all immune systems can fight this disease; think of pupils in rural areas where there is no clean water and poor toilet facilities.
If schooling continues, the worst is yet to come where coronavirus infections are concerned.
Ms Thandi Nontenja
UDEMWO Secretary General